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Article: Concentrated Powders

Concentrated Powders


How Did All Those Herbs Get into Those Little Bottles?


A few months ago, we were doing a demo at our local Natural Grocers. A young couple came to our table and asked many very good questions. Part of our current display shows the 20 raw Chinese herbs that make up ColdSnap. 20 mason jars each with a different herb in them (See photo). The young couple left, but returned shortly afterwards. The young woman, looking quite bewildered, pointed first to the mason jars and then to the bottles of encapsulated and powdered herbs and asked point blank: how did all those herbs get into those little bottles.

It did not take long for us to identify the magnitude of this question. The larger scope of it turned our attention to the world of Holistic Health. We live in a world that doesnt always question exactly whats in all those capsules, pills, tinctures etc that fill our alternative health care cabinets. It might seem like an easy question to answer, but the reality behind all these products is actually a bit more complex. This post is an attempt to answer her question more clearly to those of you who have also wondered what our concentrated powders, aka dried decoctionsare about (See photo).

Below is an excerpt from Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.Ds 1997 article named The Methods of Preparation Of Herbal Formulas. It describes the processing of raw herbs to concentrated powders very well:


The dried decoctions are produced by making very large batches of the herb formulas as decoctions (in large tanks), and then draining the liquid from the dregs. The liquid is then evaporated (using heat and vacuum) to form a syrup. The syrup is then put into a spray-drier along with a powder carrier (usually starch or the dried, powdered, herb dregs), and the remaining water is evaporated, leaving a dry powder.

The amount of extractable materials varies considerably from one herb to another and from one formula to another. The finished product, on average, is about a 4.5:1 concentration of the ingredients of the crude herbs. Put another way, it takes about 450 grams (about one pound) of raw materials to yield about 100 grams of finished product (a typical amount dispensed at one time). Put another way, if you would prescribe to a patient a formula made with 90 grams of crude herbs (for a decoction), then you would prescribe about 20 grams per day of the dried extract.(Dharmananda, 1997 )


As you can see, this process is quite technical, and yields a more potent product that is both efficient in delivery and convenient to the consumer. So, the next time you prepare to ingest your OHCO formulas, imagine how many herbs are actually operating within that small amount of powder. Kind of amazing! :)


Cheers, Enjoy and once again, Jaya Vijayi Bhava! May You Always Be Victorius.

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